Photo: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

In February the USC Trojans suspended placekicker Matt Boermeester indefinitely for what was called a “code of conduct issue.” The player’s status with the program was vague as the year went on, until last week, when the school finally confirmed Boermeester was off the roster. The reason Boermeester had been suspended in the first place was unclear, until his girlfriend spoke this week.

Zoe Katz, a women’s tennis player for the Trojans, released a two-page statement through her lawyer Sunday in which she calls the school’s Title IX office a “rogue group” which treated her horribly during the investigation and “railroaded” Boermeester. An excerpt of Katz’s statement:

I am Zoe Katz and I am a 22 year old student athlete at USC (captain of the women’s tennis team), nationally ranked singles player and have been dating Matt Boermeester for well over a year. Matt, the Trojan kicker who helped win the Rose Bowl, has been falsely accused of conduct involving me.

The fact that I have to publicly state this truth is because of how both Matt and I have been treated by USC’s Title IX office.

I am speaking up now because this horrible and unjust six-month process has finally concluded. I will tell you that I am afraid of USC’s Title IX office. I hope that my comments will not cause USC’s Title IX office to further retaliate against me in any way.

I want to be very clear that I have never been abused, assaulted or otherwise mistreated by Matt. He is an incredible person, and I am and have been 100% behind him. Nothing happened that warranted an investigation, much less the unfair, biased and drawn out process that we have been forced to endure quietly.

Terrible and untrue things have been said about Matt by people who don’t even know him, including apparently the third party who contacted Title IX, and these bizarre assertions have been treated as fact in this investigation. Words, including mine, have been incompetently or intentionally misrepresented, misquoted and taken out of context, which should not be that surprising since no statements were recorded or verified.

The first time I was mandated to come in and be interviewed by the Title IX office, I was told that I must be afraid of Matt, which I definitely was not and am not. When I told the truth about Matt, in repeated interrogations, I was stereotyped and was told I must be a “battered” woman, and that made me feel demeaned and absurdly profiled. I understand that domestic violence is a terrible problem, but in no way does that apply to Matt and me.

On one occasion I was told to come in to view a videotape - which I was happy to do - and then nothing was shown to me. It ended up being just another interrogation. I feel I was misled, harassed, threatened and discriminated against by the Title IX office to such an extent that I had to retain my own attorney during the process to protect myself and to try to get them to listen to me. The Title IX office’s response was dismissive and demeaning, “We are sorry you feel that way.”

Looking back, Matt never had a chance. Before he was even interviewed by the Title IX investigator, he was suspended from the University. He was not permitted to go to class or be on campus (he had two classes left to graduate and he was not allowed to take them elsewhere), he was not permitted to rehabilitate his knee with our trainers (he had surgery by USC doctors two weeks before), he was publicly removed from the football team and all of its activities, he was forbidden to contact me because of an unfounded concern about my safety (it was a one-way no contact order, and every one of my repeated attempts and those of my own attorney to have it lifted it were denied), and he was told he could not talk about the matter or he would potentially face another alleged violation of the policy.

Katz and her lawyer said the investigation started after a neighbor witnessed her and Boermeester “roughhousing.” Word eventually spread to a coach in the athletic department, who reported it as possible abuse to the Title IX office. This account partially overlaps with tips we received at the time. One email described an incident in which Boermeester slammed Katz against the wall and neighbors, who were on the men’s tennis team, reported it to the school.

In February, I sought more information on what Boermeester’s “code of conduct issue” actually was. On Feb. 27, I received a voicemail from a woman with a 310 (Los Angeles) area code.

The transcript:

Hi, I heard that you are trying to build a story on Matt Boermeester, and kind of searching around, asking people for information. I’m really the only one that could really answer or tell you anything and clear up any [garbled] ideas, or accusations that you seem to have. So I guess if you really want to talk to somebody, you’d reach back out to me. If not, then you really have nothing, so you can call me back at this number. Have a good night.

I called back and texted the number but never received a reply.

When reached for comment, a USC spokesperson provided this statement:

USC stands by its investigation and the evidence, which includes accounts provided by multiple witnesses. As previously stated, student disciplinary records are confidential. If the students involved waive their confidentiality rights, the university will offer a detailed response.

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